After meeting Happiness Walker Paula Francis on my home turf in Florida in 2015, I was determined to join her on the Walk. My goal was September 2016 in New Mexico.
But how to prepare? I have always been a walker. I have walked several 1/2 marathons, most under three hours. But, this was different. Day after day walking 17, 19 or even 23 miles. That thought added to my anxiousness about training. I knew I could do three continuous days. It was that fourth, fifth and sixth day I had questions about. Therefore, building my stamina was my biggest goal.
I joined a gym in February. On the treadmill I started with four miles on the rolling hills setting at 3.5 miles per hour. It was nice and easy. I had my new Ipod (over 4,000 songs). I would plug in and let the music take me over. Upon completion of my walking, I did about a half hour of various core strengthening exercises. I also added the leg machines. For about two months, I spent an hour and a half at the gym four or five times a week.
By May, I upped my miles per hour to 4.5, always remaining walking. I felt that was very important. To walk. I still added a half hour of core and leg exercising. Now, though, I added more: golfing. I went to the range three times a week in the evening shooting a bucket of 180 balls. I was then playing 18 holes on Sundays without the cart, walking. I would go to the gym later in the afternoon on Sunday and do only 2 miles on the treadmill plus 15 minutes of core exercises. Remember — I was trying to build endurance. On Saturdays I went to the gym for approximately 2 hours, then back home where I mowed the front and back lawn. My weekends were full. It got to be a personal challenge to see how much I could do in a single day.
In June I began using the incline setting on the treadmill. I started at 10% incline doing four miles at 3.8 miles per hour. Within the month I was doing at least the first two miles at 15% incline but I was slowly upping the miles per hour. Now sometimes I would run 15% incline at 5.4 miles per hour. I had to hold on but I did it. I was still doing the half hour of core strengthening – plus! 15 minutes on the bike.
I continued like this for a month or two. I was still going home on Saturday and cutting my front grass and back grass. But, now added doing my neighbors lawn to my routine. I would also do regular errands like grocery shopping and the like. Then I would take a shower and go to Church in the evening. I wanted to see how long I could last. I kept this routine up as regular weekend actions for the next three months until I left for New Mexico. I would sometimes do 6 miles at 15% incline at 4.5 miles per hour. I was trying to keep in mind that Paula was walking regularly everyday sometimes doing 29 miles in a day. I did not want to bog her down or embarrass myself.
I am also a licensed massage therapist, so on top of all of this, I was doing between 5 and 8 massages five days a week. I would go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I made Saturday, Sunday and Monday, my heaviest days. Wednesday and Friday I usually spent an hour and half at the gym.
I know it sounds like a lot but it got to be a fun routine. I started making a game out of it to see how much I could accomplish in a day. I was challenging myself to keep pace with a woman who walks seven days a week, five to seven hours every day. I really looked forward to my workouts and still do. My weekend is planned around my trips to the gym. I feel great and look healthy. I eat good food and have a fun active life. And now I am a HAPPINESS WALKER and could not be more impressed with my recent accomplishment of 167 miles in 10 days.